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Friday, July 22, 2011

Q&A: Rose Pak Talks About Mayor Ed Lee and the Ethics Commission

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2011 at 7:45 AM

  • Caroline Chen
  • Rose Pak
Rose Pak, Chinatown activist and the supposed mastermind behind the Run Ed Run campaign, is one of the best-known characters in San Francisco. This week SF Weekly sat down with Pak to dish about politics, her projects and passions, and life before becoming the biggest power broker in San Francisco.

In this installment: Pak thinks that Ed Lee can be persuaded to run, and questions the ethics of the Ethics Commission.

How's the Ed Lee campaign going?
Slowly, but that's to be expected. We have over 30,000 signatures by now.

By now, you must have talked to Ed Lee ...
No, I've not talked to him. I mean, I always see him, but I know him well enough so that I don't need to clobber him on the head with it, you know.

So why does he keep saying he won't run for mayor?
I think it's because he feels that he committed himself. He made the commitment that he would serve for one year, so that's all he was focused on. And I think with everybody asking him to run, it gets to a saturation point where it ceases to be effective. So that's why I think in the end it will be the sheer number of people signing the petition asking him to run and the Board of Supervisors clamoring for him to run that will do the trick.

So you think he's still open to a change of heart?
If I didn't think so, I wouldn't keep on trying.

How much money does the campaign have?
I don't know. The funds come from mainly the Chinese community, a lot of it in small amounts. Of course, our friends are coming out with a little bit more. Then they have the Internet thing going on. But, I don't run those things, you know. I just help push.

If Lee does decide to run, would you continue to run this campaign for him, or hand it over?
No, no. Progress for All has been doing outreach on ranked-choice, teaching, and voter registration prior to Run Ed Run. Run Ed Run will fold come August, one way or another. Whether [the chairs] want to continue until the end of the year to run for the voter registration, rank choice education, those things ... I hope that they would continue to function even without an Ed Lee, because that's not how it was formed.

Some have said that Progress for All has been using a loophole in campaign laws ...
It all comes from Jim Stearn's and Leland Yee's campaign offices. I just caution people living in glass houses, you know.

I made it very clear at the beginning that we must make sure we had a ruling from FPCC as well as from the San Francisco Ethics Commission that it was all legal and that everything's on the up and up, and that we would comply with all the rules and finance regulations -- even if it's a $20 donation, I make people leave their name and address. There's nothing wrong, nothing to hide! We comply with every filing regulation. But it's funny, the filing regulation is not due until the end of July, so we haven't filed anything yet. So why would you be alleging [that we] were violating the law?

And now, for the first time, I raise the question whether our Ethics Commission -- especially the director -- whether he is under undue influence from campaign managers in this town. We wrote him asking for details and asking under different scenarios, which is permissible, then he answered us on the phone and said everything is fine. Then two weeks later he leaks it to a newspaper. Is that ethical? And then he is quoted by a newspaper implying that we're skirting the law? That's no way to conduct an office. If you feel that we have broken the law, let us know -- inform us. We never got a goddamn written thing from him! [Pak bangs the table] So we're demanding that he writes our legal counsel. He does not know his ethics.

What if Lee decides not to run? Who will you back then?
I think different people will reassess. I know right now all of us are together, because we all want Ed Lee. So once Ed Lee decides not to run, I think Dennis Herrera, probably, but I honestly don't know, because we don't discuss it.

On Monday, Pak talks to SF Weekly about Leland Yee and the Central Subway.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly.
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Caroline Chen


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